Santa Cruz

Initially, I thought this site was going to be about things to do in Yosemite, but as it has morphed into just a little personal blog – the easiest kind to write – I might as well include my little vacation to Santa Cruz.

Mom and Dad enjoying their lobster dinner
Mom and Dad enjoying their lobster dinner
My parents came out to CA for a visit. I’m not sure what they thought of the Yosemite part of their trip. We went to Glacier Point and around the Valley, but they seemed mostly to be interested in sitting around our house and helping us with chores. Plus, I made them spend an hour picking up trash for the Yosemite Facelift. “Yeah, there’s Half Dome, ooo, and there’s an aluminum can, grab that.”

They arrived Saturday,and finally on Wednesday we were on our way to Santa Cruz. We drove in and walked the 3 (not 2 as the hotel optimistically claims) blocks to the Boardwalk.  It looks a little Disneyland for my taste, but it’s mostly closed and the beach is not at all crowded.  The groups playing beach volleyball stir a bit of nostalgia, but my volleyball-playing days are long gone.  Not only am I out of practice, but even the thought of diving for the ball makes my back cringe – even if I’m just hitting sand.

Bobcat in Santa Cruz arboretum
Bobcat in Santa Cruz arboretum
We would have had dinner at the Gilbert’s restaurant on the Wharf, but the rude  and stupid Maitre-D’ put us all off.  Tom was worried that there would be a table minimum, and asked if there would be a problem if only a few of us wanted a full entree.  The maitre d’ just looked at us, said, "Yes", then waited in silence for us to turn on our heels and leave. No apology and no explanation.  So there’s that.  I wish I were Seth Godin (or had all of Seth Godin’s readers), and could let loose on the stupidity of doing that to potential customers.

We went off to spend our money at a more friendly establishment that was serving Live Maine Lobster at a special rate.  That turned out to be a good decision anyway, because I don’t know when I’ve seen my parents more gleeful about food, and tonight when we walked by, I took some satisfaction in seeing the snooty maitre-d’ standing in front of many empty tables.  I wish them many more empty tables in the future.

Jellyfish display at the Monterey Bay Aquarium
Jellyfish display at the Monterey Bay Aquarium
Other than that, we’ve been enjoying our time in Santa Cruz.  This morning after a jog along the coast from our hotel, we headed inland to poke around the UCSC arboretum and campus.  This isn’t really the season for the arboretum, but we enjoyed the the exotic looking African and Australian plants, and the humming birds.  My parents wandered off without us, and while looking for them, we spotted a beautiful bobcat. Tom found out later that this is her second season in the arboretum, and was recently seen with kittens.  We found my parents later – they’d been enjoying the gift shop – and decided to take off up the coast.  The trip around the UCSC campus was a bit of a whim, and we were surprised at how spread out and hilly the campus was. Heaven forbid that you should have alternating classes at either ends of campus… unless you were looking for some exercise.

Family gathering in Monterey
Family gathering in Monterey
(T, Joyce, T, Grace, Joe, Mary, Daniel)
After that, we headed to the beach, relaxed and enjoyed watching some experienced kite surfers playing in the waves at Rancho del Oso. On the way back, we picked up a half-flat of organic strawberries from a fruit stand that we hope to return to before the end of the week.

During the second part of the week, we went down to Monterey to visit Uncle Daniel and Aunt Joyce, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Aunt Joyce is still recovering from back surgery, but she was her typical energetic and hospitable self, we took several family pictures at her house. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is always a pleasure, and the jellyfish tanks have always been my favorite. Uncle Daniel also suggested a drive south along the coast and a stop at Angel Point (if I remember correctly) where we saw a few wild otters, merrily playing hide and seek with a few kayakers fortunate to be out on the water.

Anthony and Julie joined us for the weekend, and brought their Wii with them. We spent Saturday relaxing with them, and my arms and shoulders were sore for days after playing a bit too much Wii tenis, and boxing. Aunt Grace came down from Rio Vista, and we all relaxed together Saturday. On Sunday, Anthony and Julie left to shop for supplies for won ton making lessons later in the day, but the rest of us returned to Monterey for lunch with Aunt, Uncle, and my cousin David and his family.

Vacation to East Coast

We got back from this trip September 8, but there has been so much going on in the interim, that I haven’t had any chance to post anything until now, and there’s so much to do still, that I’ll keep this short.

Concert at Trapps with Tom's family
Concert at Trapps with Tom's family

We flew from Fresno, CA to Logan airport in MA in a long and painful trip that was accidentally extended at 1:30 am when I locked the keys in the car in the middle of nowhere VT while changing drivers in the middle of nowhere VT. Keys, phones, money, everything was in the car. Fortunately, there was a pay phone nearby, and not knowing the AAA phone number, I dialed 911. They were surprisingly efficient, and called a tow truck for us.

Our time in Stowe was really wonderful. It included an outdoor concert with Tom’s parents and his sister’s family at the Trapp Family Lodge (the family of Sound of Music fame). Although I had been there many times for XC skiing, it was the first time I’d seen in without snow. Unsurprisingly, it is still beautiful. Sitting outdoors, enjoying some music, and watching the sun set made for a great evening.

Tom and Denis at the Summit of Stowe Pinnacle
Tom and Denis at the Summit of Stowe Pinnacle
During that week, we spent time with Tom’s parents, enjoyed conversation with Mary, Steve and Mariana (they persuaded me to join Facebook), as well as Denis, Pat and their kids who came up for the long weekend. We took walks with Tom’s mother, Maria, along the Stowe Recreation Path. Ate out at many fine Stowe restaurants, and went for a run along the Recreation Path which has measured distances. This is the first time I’ve really run a measured distance that I have any faith in. I’m slow. I averaged something like 11+ min miles over the 4 miles that I ran, and suffered to do it. One morning we hiked to the top of Stowe Pinnacle with Tom’s bro, Denis. The hike was beautiful – like a temperate rain forest wet and with beautiful roots, and brightly colored lichen and fungus everywhere, and so unlike the drier and dustier trails of California. I took a bunch of pictures, but they didn’t really turn out. I blame the camera.

Beware of Doug
Beware of Doug
We also went to Doug’s new house in South Hero, VT, and visited with Doug and Bridget. It’s a beautiful old farmhouse, on an enormous property that has necessitated a driving lawnmower to care for the sprawling green lawn. Bridget has started working for a local apple orchard that Tom used to work at when he was young, and they are thinking about starting a Bed and Breakfast at their home to take advantage of the extra space, and earn some extra cash. We tried to convince Doug that he wanted to run just a Bed, because the breakfast part really creates so much additional work, but neither Doug nor Bridget seemed much convinced.

Doug at his new house in South Hero, VT
Doug at his new house in South Hero, VT

On Friday, we drove down to MA for the second part of the vacation. Our friends, Rachel and Garrett got married in Salem, MA, a short drive from Tom’s sister, Tracy’s, house in Acton. Their wedding was beautiful, set outdoors on the coast, and we met many of their other friends, and family. I took a bunch of pictures of the wedding which also mostly didn’t come out. More and more momentum for the Canon dSLR and nice lenses on the wish list that probably won’t actually improve my photography. Fortunately for the bride and groom, their pro photographer got some great shots.

Cool Fungus on the walk to the Dog Park
Cool Fungus on the walk to the Dog Park
We also enjoyed lounging at Tracy and Ron’s house in between wedding events. Caroline and Julia are growing up so fast. We applauded Caroline’s interest in nursing, and tried (unsuccessfully) to get Julia to start a million-dollar Cell Phone Website. We strolled with Tracy, Ron and Dori to the dog park, and photographed the interesting mushrooms that grow in the park near their home.
Mushroom on the walk to the dog park
Mushroom on the walk to the dog park
It was exceptionally wet from the rain brought by Hurricane Gustav, which is such a pleasure after the extra dry season that we’ve been having in Yosemite.

Unfortunately, the wonderful, relaxing vacation was capped by another marathon airplane journey back to CA. This time our flight arrived shortly after 5pm, and we managed to do a small amount of grocery shopping in Fresno before heading back to Yosemite.

I even managed to drop off a few of the Girls on Granite brochures that I’d brought with me. It’s late to get printed materials out for the September sessions, but there it is.